Partisans surprise no-one by framing a “new” minimum tax rate on those making above $1 million as a declaration of “class warfare.” Out of an infinite number of problems with this (admittedly effective) rhetorical trick, let’s focus on a few.
First, nothing about a millionaire’s tax bracket is shocking or new. Today’s top marginal tax rates clock in far below what was normal or expected thirty years ago. Sensationalizing the commonplace is classic trick of demagoguery (YouTube), but not sound statesmanship.
Second, “class warfare,” defined to include any situation that pits the abstracted interests of one class against another, is nothing new to the political debate. In fact, it’s basically the Republican playbook for the past twenty years: what is constant whining about East Coast elitism, and the strategy of pitting “Real America” against the moral wasteland of the cities, except a prolonged and more conflict-driven excursion into “class warfare”? What is “trickle-down economics” but the assertion that, in America, the rich should come first, and everyone else second — or sometimes not at all? If this is class warfare, then we’re late to the engagement.
Finally, we as a country need to be able to effectively discuss sensible solutions to the nation’s current economic crisis. Taxing the rich isn’t punitive; it’s a way of meeting the bottom line, and better than any alternative the other side has offered.